6 Tips for First-Time Runners
**Before starting any exercise program consult your physician.
The first time I was invited to run I thought, "Sure, why not." I had never run before-- well, not since I was in elementary school I'm sure. I chased after my son when he was two, but I doubt that constituted as running. I think I jogged to the mailbox a time or two to beat the rain, but again, that probably didn't categorize as a run.
I remember that first run. I remember my thoughts too. They were something like:
Who does this...on purpose...by choice?!
Oh my gosh, this sucks.
What in the world am I doing?
Are we almost done?
I think I'm dying...I can't breath...can we stop?!
Believe it or not, I accepted a second invite to run. And the rest, as they say, is history. I was hooked. It was hard, but I soon learned that I was capable of running! And so are you.
Running is so much more than tennis shoes, pavement, and sweat. It is discipline, focus, and balance. It is patience and stamina, endurance and strength. It is joy and victory.
Hebrews 12:1 says, "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
You see, running is a lot like living. So what are you waiting for? Put aside the weight of doubt, fear, and anxiety--those things that hold you back, cement you in place--and run!
Before you grab your sneakers, here 6 tips that might help--strategies that have worked in my six years of running.
Invest in a good running shoe
I highly recommend getting fitted at a running store for your first pair. The first shoe I ran in was Asics, recommended by my brother. I loved them so much that I ran my second year in Asics as well. Wanting to venture out, my third shoe was Brooks. Again, my feet were happy and supported. In fact, I finished a hill climb race in Colorado in this shoe. The fourth was a "minimal" Nike running shoe--not a smart choice. My feet, knees, and hip suffered the brief time I ran in this shoe. I am currently on my second Saucony running shoe and am very pleased. If you need more proof of a good shoe, my two running buddies are in Asics and Saucony as well!
Stretch before and after a run
Actively stretching loosens the body and prepares the mind for activity. Stretching may also prevent injuries that become an annoyance and can delay your running routine. I've discovered the importance of stretching the back, hips, and legs. For me this is a must. Stand and stretch; sit on the floor and stretch. Bend. Lean. Hold. Count to 2o for each stretch. I probably stretch for about 5 minutes before and after a run. If you are unsure of the stretch that is right for you, check out Google or the Sworkit app. This app has both yoga and Pilates running stretches.
Be patient with yourself. Moderation really is key. Begin with a walk-run-walk-run pattern at first. Be present in the moment. Don't think about the mile ahead, the 5k, or the 10k. Don't worry about your time. Just feel your feet striking the pavement. Breathe. Relax your shoulders; let them drop. Know that you are able, capable. Have a "can do" attitude.
My goal when I first started running was one mile, walking breaks included. Once I accomplished the mile of running, I focused on two. Today I still maintain a gradual pace of increasing my distance. Patience and prayer have kept me able and injury-free for six years.
Location is everything
Pick a place that works for you. Maybe it's the treadmill in your living room, so you can monitor your toddler. Maybe it's the street you live on, so you don't waste gas driving. It could even be the walking track at the community center or local gym. For me, it's anywhere outside--a nearby neighborhood with large oak trees and landscaped yards; the downtown parking garage and hospital community; the French Quarter in New Orleans; the bridge; a nature trail.
Find a running buddy
Find someone who is disciplined, motivating, and encouraging. Someone who will hold you accountable. I am lucky to have two fabulous running buddies. We are friends, co-workers, confidantes. Tina and I have been running together since November 2009. We ran our first Crescent City Classic together in New Orleans in 2010. Stephanie and I began running together in 2014 and have finished several 5ks, two 10ks, and are looking forward to tackling our first half marathon. The three of us have participated in Warrior Dash twice. Running with friends is fun!
When I run, I pray. I thank God for a body that is able--able to work, move, stretch, and bend. I pray for strong legs, strong arms, strong feet, strong lungs, and a strong mind. I talk to Him about my day. I ask the Holy Spirit to bless me with the focus, motivation, and discipline to run. I offer my run as praise and thanksgiving to the one who created me.
I am a runner. I will run with endurance the race set before me. I will mount up with wings like eagles, run, and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31). I know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Let's be victorious together. Will you join me?
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